Long span bridges Subscribe

Long-span bridges have always held a fascination for structural engineers – and indeed, for the general public – with the longest bridges of each type generally categorised by their worldwide rating. When a new record is set – as seems to happen on a regular basis – the latest title-holder is accorded great publicity and guaranteed an audience around the world.

But as our supplement makes clear, the biggest challenges in long-span bridge engineering are not necessarily always to be found in the record-breaking structures. These may be challenging when they are under construction – particularly if they are being built in regions which experience extreme weather conditions – but often they employ tried and tested design approaches and construction technologies, with the longer spans generally driven by topography or other project-specific criteria. 

The skills of engineers and architects working on any long-span bridges can often be tested more thoroughly when it comes to designing them for highly-seismic locations, using unusual combinations such as those with multiple cable-supported spans in series, or being tasked with creating aesthetically-pleasing structures at this kind of scale. 

In this special supplement we kick off with an overview of long-span bridges in China, where many of the world’s current longest spans reside; canvass opinion on the hot-topics in long-span bridges around the world, and report on some of the ongoing, planned and recently-completed long-span crossings. It is by no means exhaustive, that would be impossible in a publication of this size, but I hope it will give readers a flavour of some of the challenges the industry is facing today.